August 21, 2009

Jeez. On the same day that one of their leaders and key organizers is arrested for pulling a gun on an elderly man, the folks who run the Tea Parties in Boise got to announce that Blue Dog Democrat Walt Minnick would be meeting with them.

Now that's what I call timing.

The Political Game has the details:

What is even more unconscionable than Republicans lying about reform efforts to keep average Idahoans from supporting any of those efforts is the fact that Congressman Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) is going to speak to those who have halted civil discourse across this nation--teabaggers. Our one and only "Democratic" congressman, Walt Minnick, conducted a telephone town hall last night and will again on the last day of this month, but has otherwise avoided meeting with average constituents throughout his district (he's happy to meet with business leaders and corporate interests) who have real concerns about health care reform. The sting of Minnick's conservative positions and opposition to health care was made exponentially worse today when the Statesman reported that on Saturday Minnick will speak to TEA Party Boise at the Owyhee Plaza.

Congressman Minnick is willingly going before a potential group of extremists who are gun toting, anti-Obama, health care reform obstructionists. He has chosen principles, if he has any, over party. He is catering to the lunatic fringe in ways we haven't seen an Idaho politician of either party do since Congressman Helen Chenoweth.

Well, it's one thing to waffle, but to embrace the people who have been turning our national discourse into a three-wingnut circus is indeed unconscionable.

The ironic thing, as we've explored previously, is that none of these people will ever, ever vote for Walt Minnick. He has a better chance of convincing a rock to vote for him.

Especially the folks who run Tea Party Boise. As we noted, one of their leaders -- a fellow named Challis McAffee -- was just arrested for pointing a handgun at an elderly man whose home McAffee was photographing.

McAfee, as the AP story explains, was a key figure in the recent takeover of much the Idaho GOP apparatus by supporters of Ron Paul. McAffee also runs a Paul-supporting organization called Idahoans for Liberty.

His friends also have a fondness for getting bellicose to the point of being arrested; one of them, a fellow named Christopher Pentico, was convicted of trespass earlier this year when he refused to leave the grounds of the state Capitol building. McAffee, in cohort with Tea Party Boise, organized the Tea Partiers to appear in the courtroom at Pentico's sentencing.

Being a fourth-generation Idahoan myself, I can safely predict that Minnick -- who is likely to lose his seat no matter what -- is doomed to fail by taking this kind of course. He'd do far better to persuade that mushy middle of soft suburban Republicans that he's worth voting for. And playing footsie with his core positions is not how he'll do that.

Those soft Republicans can be convinced to vote for a Democrat if they think he's a person of principle with good bearings -- after all, they voted for Cecil Andrus for many years. They don't need Minnick to agree with them always, but it's far more important that they respect him.

Taking a principled stand on health care would actually win Minnick more respect than it would lose him votes. Because as he'll see this weekend, the folks on the other side would die a thousand horrible deaths before they'd ever vote for a Democrat.

Just do the right thing, Walt. It's easier than you think.

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